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Antibiotics are widely used to treat infectious disease in animals and humans. A recent government review of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) recommended reducing antibiotic use in agriculture. This POSTnote discusses the current use of antibiotics in animals and the options available for reducing that use.

Key points in the POSTnote iclude:

  • Concerns over the spread of AMR have seen moves to reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics in both animals and humans
  • Antibiotic use in agriculture varies from sector (pigs, poultry, dairy etc.) to another and depends on the prevalence of endemic disease
  • The use of antibiotics in agriculture has sginificantly declined in recent years, but further reductions will be needed to meet targets for 2020
  • Approaches to reducing antibiotic use in animals include better animal husbandry, improved housing, better herd/flock management, vaccination and disease eradication
  • Enacting change involves managing the expectations that people who use vets (clients such as farmers or pet owners) have of being prescribed antibiotics when their animals are ill.    

POSTnotes are based on litereature reviews and inerviews with a range of stakeholders and are externally peer reviewed. POST would like to thank interviewees and peer reviewers for kindly giving up their time during the preparation of this briefing including:

*Rhiannon Wilson, Policy Bristol for organising the meeting with the DIALS consortium
*Dr Kristen Reyher, University of Bristol
*Prof David Barrett, University of Bristol
*Dr Matthew Avison, University of Bristol
*Dr Kin Wing Chan, University of Exeter
*Dr. Katie Adam, University of Edinburgh
*Alison Bard, University of Bristol
*Dr Ginny Gould, University of Bristol
*Hannah Schubert, University of Bristol
*Jon Massey, University of Bristol
*Rhiannon Wilson, Policy Bristol
*Aled Davies, Pruex
*Nigel Underwood, Elanco
*DrJoshua Onyango, Innovation for Agriculture
*Richard Lloyd, Innovation for Agriculture
*Paul Thompson, Garth Vet
*Lydia Stratton, RSPCA Assured
*Sconaid Wastie, RSPCA Assured
*Dr Helen R. Stebbins, Micron Bio-systems
*Dr Georgina Crayford, National Pig Association
*Craig Lewis, European Forum of Farm Animal Breeders
*Mike Bryan, Galebreakers
*Cheryl Williams, Galebreakers
*Dr Coll Hutchison, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Health
*Dr Bianca D’Souza, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Health
*Dr Liz Sockett, University of Nottingham
*Dr Liz Bowles, Soil Association/ Labelling Matters
*Dr Donal Murphy, National Office of Animal Health
*Prof Sharon Peacock, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Health
*Jess Sloss, Red Tractor 
*Dr Bryan Charlston, Pirbrite Institute
*Dr Karin Darpel, Pirbrite Institute
*Dr Erica Bickerton, Pirbrite Institute
*Dr Andrew Broadbent, Pirbrite Institute
*Lizelle Gouverneur, Pirbrite Institute
*Dr Pantelis Georgiou, Imperial College London
*Dr Jesus Rodriguez Manzano, Imperial College London
*Nicolas B G Moser, Imperial College London
*Dr Matt BurneyCancer Research UK
*Dr Cóilín Nunan, Alliance to Save our Antibiotics
*Suzi Shingler,  Alliance to Save our Antibiotics
*Prof Brendan Wren, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Health
*Jon Cuccui, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Health 
*Dr Lindsay Evans, Imperial College London
*Dr Andrew Edwards, Imperial College London
*Dr Alberto Giubilini, University of Oxford
*Dr Susanna Williamson, Animal and Plant Health Agency
*Prof Cathy Dwyer, Scotland’s Rural College Institution
*Sarah Golding, University of Surrey
*Dr Mandy Nevel, Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board
*Dr Robert Atterbury, University of Nottingham
*John Tuer, Protexin
*Prof Dov Stekel, University of Nottingham
*Catherine McLaughlin, RUMA Alliance/NFU
*John Fishwick, British Veterinary Association
*Michael Mcgilligan, British Veterinary Association
*Prof Mick Bailey, University of Bristol
Fraser Broadfoot, Veterinary Medicines Directorate
Dr Ana Vidal, Veterinary Medicines Directorate
Niloy Acharyya, Veterinary Medicines Directorate
*Dr Gabrielle Laing, House of Lords
*Dr Amanda Carson, Animal and Plant Health Agency  
Dr Claire Burney, University Hospitals Bristol
*Dr Christopher Brown, Society for Applied Microbiology
Mike Biddle, Innovate UK
*Paul Williams, MSD Animal Health
*Professor the Lord Trees, House of Lords
*Dr Stella Mascarenhas-Keyes, Consultant Social Scientist

* Denotes exteranl reviewers

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